According to the Colorado State University (CSU) tropical storm research team, the 2010 North Atlantic hurricane season will be “above average”. Philip Klotzbach and William Gray of CSU said conditions in the North Atlantic are favorable for an active hurricane season, and they predict the basin will see 11 to 16 named tropical storms between June 1 and November 30. Of these, 6 to 8 are expected to become hurricanes while 3 to 5 major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater (category 3 and above on the Saffir-Simpson Scale) have been predicted. According to Klotzbach and Gray, the long-term average is 9.6 tropical storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes per year.
Klotzbach and Gray’s team said that the chances of at least one major hurricane making landfall in the US in 2010 is 64 percent, significantly higher than the long-term average of 52 percent. For the US east coast, including the Florida Peninsula, the probability of a major hurricane making landfall is 40 percent, up on the average of 31 percent. A 40 percent probability has also been calculated for the Gulf Coast, compared with a long-term average of 30 percent. In the Caribbean, meanwhile, the CSU said there was a 53 percent chance of at least one major hurricane moving through the region, notably higher than the 42 percent long-term average.
In 2009, tropical cyclone activity was below average after nine named storms, three hurricanes and two major hurricanes were recorded. Moreover, no hurricanes made landfall in the United States for the first time in three years. Meteorologists said an El Niño event played an important part in limiting tropical cyclone development in 2009 and, as the table below illustrates, the CSU predicted below-average hurricane activity when the formation of El Niño became apparent from mid-2009 onwards.
Comparison of Forecast Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Development and Observed Development for 2009
(Source: Klotzbach & Gray, 2009)
However, despite the quiet 2009 season, researchers at the CSU continue to believe that the Atlantic basin is in an active period, and for 2010 they predict activity will return to levels more typical of active-cycle years. The research team expects the current El Niño event to have dissipated by the time the 2010 hurricane season begins, and they say this, combined with predicted warm sea surface temperatures, is likely to lead to an above average hurricane season next year.
The next Philip Klotzbach and William Gray forecast is due to be released on April 7, 2010.
The North Atlantic tropical cyclone names for 2010 are: Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie, Walter.
Sources: CSU http://hurricane.atmos.colostate.edu/Forecasts/2009/dec2009/dec2009.pdf, Reuters News
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